By Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS, ART
Starting the 2013 year off on the right foot means setting new health and fitness goals. Taking the time to develop SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, results based, and trackable – goals is the key to obtaining and maintaining your progress. Whether your focus is health or athletic performance, the goals must be specific to the changes you would like to see, or the success you envision yourself having. For example, many clients come into my office wanting to lose weight, however when I ask how much weight they would like to lose or in how many weeks they often aren’t sure. This is a perfect example of unspecific goal. The more specific you can make your weight loss goal, the more likely you are to achieving the result. Now, it’s understandable that many clients aren’t sure how much they should lose or what a ‘healthy’ weight loss should look like. This is where the expertise and guidance of the practitioner is critical. They should be guiding the client throughout the process by creating a roadmap for success.
This is where the measurable component of your SMART goals come into play. Using our weight loss example, this would mean starting the year off by getting your body-fat percentage, blood sugars, and thyroid function in order to get some important baseline measurements for how well your body is dealing with sugars, your current metabolic rate, and your starting point for total body-fat. This is an important point because weighing yourself is not sufficient enough to evaluate weight loss. Time and time again clients come in thinking they haven’t lost weight because the needle on the scale hasn’t changed, yet after comprehensive measurements they realize they have actually lost fat and gained lean muscle! Without measuring your progress, it’s too easy to get confused and lose your way on the roadmap to success.
Thirdly, when coming in for a wellness check-up or goal-setting session in the new year it’s important for you and the practitioner to set-up achievable goals. This means being realistic about how much time you can dedicate to training, while trying to balance work and family life. Clients often get frustrated when progress stalls because their plan was unrealistic from the outset. It’s easy to be motivated in January with 5 sessions per week, but if you can’t sustain that in the long-term, then it can slow progress and leave you frustrated. Train smarter, not harder. Develop achievable goals with your practitioner so you can have short-term and long-term success! I always use quarterly goals (12 weeks) with clients, with check-points along the way to ensure we are on the right track.
Next, your goals need to be results-based. This means that at the end of the day, there are tangible qualitative measurements they can objectively assess whether or not you are achieving the short-terms benchmarks in order to accomplish your long-term goals. By being accountable to a specific result, you can feel the sense of accomplishment, pride, and satisfaction that goes with achieving those benchmarks. It provides you with positive feedback to let you know that your hard work is paying off. On the other hand, if you are not achieving results this is where the practitioner can help right the ship before it strays too far off course. It’s very common for clients to experience ups and down along the way to achieving their goals. A qualified practitioner can help identify the roadblocks and provide the roadmap for getting your progress back on track. Without results-based SMART goals, this would not be possible.
Finally, a critical component of any new year’s resolutions or fitness plans is to ensure that your goals are trackable! Clients often come in say to me.. ‘I want to be healthier’, or ‘I want to be stronger’… but don’t know how to track these parameters. This is where running blood tests, getting body composition assessed, or even a simple urinalysis can provide valuable health and fitness information that can be used to track your progress. Using these methods, we can re-test and measure your progress after 12 weeks, 6 months, and one year to show you how much progress you’ve made. I am always amazed how little credit patients often give themselves. For example, weight loss patients commonly say ‘I think I am doing ok’ after having lost 7-8 lbs in one month. That is great progress. Over the course of 3-6 months this translates into tremendous success. However, because clients ’see’ themselves everyday in the mirror, it’s more difficult for them to appreciate all their progress. Another important reason for working with a qualified practitioner. Again, this is where getting tested – measuring liver function, blood sugars, metabolism, hormones – is a fantastic way to get a baseline at the outset of your year in order to appreciate all your progress down the road.
Start your 2013 off on the right foot and come in for a Wellness Check-Up to set your health and fitness goals for the new year. Setting the proper road map, developing SMART goals, and being held accountable for your actions is the key to long-term success! Contact NSM today to get your year off to the best possible start.
Dr. Marc Bubbs N.D. has been working with athletes and active people for almost a decade. As a Naturopathic Doctor and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Marc focuses on the integration of health and exercise, believing that movement is the best medicine. He focuses on a holistic approach, using a combination of traditional Eastern and cutting-edge Western medicine to meet his client’s health and performance goals. To book an appointment with Dr. Bubbs, please contact the Integrative Health Institute at 416 260 6038.